Africa is poised for 5G - But 3G and 4G will be the main drivers of mobile broadband in Africa over the coming years

Via Ovum Media center

Nov 8, 2018

08 Nov 2018 byMatthew Reed

Provided by Forecaster |

Cape Town, South Africa / London, United Kingdom

Advanced operators and markets in Africa are poised for early 5G launches, with South Africa, Kenya, Namibia, and Mauritius expected to launch mobile 5G services by 2022, according to recent forecasts by Ovum.

However, the take-up of 5G in Africa overall will be modest initially, with only 5.9 million mobile 5G connections on the continent at end-2023, Ovum forecasts (see Figure 1). Instead, continued increases in 3G and 4G subscription numbers will power the growth in mobile broadband in Africa over the next few years. The number of mobile 3G connections on the continent will rise from 456.6 million at end-2018 to 697.6 million at end-2023, while the number of mobile 4G connections in Africa will increase fivefold from 50.5 million at end-2018 to 271.6 million at end-2023.

At end-2023, mobile broadband connections – based on 3G and more advanced technologies – will represent 73.3% of the total 1.33 billion mobile connections on the continent.

Figure 1: Africa mobile subscriptions forecast by technology, 2018-23

Africa mobile subscriptions forecast by technology 201823

Source: Ovum Forecaster

The first use case for 5G in Africa will be for fixed-wireless broadband, followed by enhanced mobile broadband after 5G-capable smartphones become available.

As 5G technology advances, its capabilities will expand to include massive machine-type communications and ultra-reliable low latency communications, which could enable new 5G services in Africa for automation and remote monitoring and management in sectors such as agriculture, health, extractive industries, and smart cities.

However, despite advances, Africa is still behind much of the rest of the world in terms of connectivity. Ovum data shows at the end of June 2018, 43.5% of mobile subscriptions on the continent were based on mobile broadband connections (see Figure 2). That is considerably below the global average of 70.7%.

Matthew Reed, Practice Leader, Middle East and Africa at Ovum comments “Africa is becoming better connected, and that is opening up new opportunities for growth in a range of data and digital services, including the more sophisticated offerings that will become possible with 5G,” he said. “But at the same time many on the continent still do not have reliable or affordable access to communications services and there continues to be a need to address that digital divide.”

Figure 2: Africa's 10 largest mobile markets by subscriptions, 2Q18

Africas 10 largest mobile markets by subscriptions 2Q18

Source: Ovum Forecaster

*Note: Mobile broadband connections are those based on 3G and more advanced technology standards. *

Further market trends across Africa are explored in Ovum’s new report Africa Digital Outlook 2019, which is available here.

  • Matthew Reed , Practice Leader, Middle East and Africa (MEA), will be chairing the LeadersIn Africa Summit on 13 Nov from 13.30 to 16.00 and the 5G Africa conference session on 14 Nov from 12:00 to 16:20.
  • Thecla Mbongue , Senior Analyst, MEA, will be chairing 5G Africa on 13 Nov from 12:00 to 17:20 and Connecting Africa on 14 Nov from 12:00 to 17:10.
  • Danson Njue , Research Analyst, MEA, will be chairing LeadersIn Africa: Future Cities Africa on 14 Nov from 13.30 to 15.30.
  • Adrian Ho , Principal Analyst, Large Enterprise, will be chairing Enterprise Digital Transformation on 14 Nov from 12.30 to 16.40.
  • Mark Oliver , Head of Consulting, EMEA, will be moderating the interactive feature in the Leaders In Africa Summit on 13 Nov from 13:30 to 16:00.
  • Matthew Pougher , Director of Business Development, will be demonstrating Ovum Forecaster at the Ovum stand number A104 in Hall 4, and on the Connectivity Stage .
  • Grant Watson , Sales Director for Africa, and Terry White , Associate Senior Analyst, will be at the Ovum stand (number A104 located in Hall 4).

Please do reach out to the Ovum team with any questions about Ovum’s research, data and consulting services, including Forecaster.

About Forecaster

Ovum has recently launched Forecaster, the industry’s most powerful market data and forecasting service. With more than 130 market forecasts, comprehensive historical data, and detailed operator KPIs, Forecaster is the definitive source to support your strategic decisions. No other service matches its depth of market: mobile, fixed line, pay TV (22 African countries) and OTT TV (30 African countries).

Forecaster has been designed to help organizations achieve competitive advantage while saving them time and mitigating risk. It will enable digital service providers to develop better strategies around not only those services, technologies and markets that are in growth, but also to more proactively identify and handle areas in decline or under substantial competitive pressure.

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